Malawi Defence Force (MDF) on Wednesday inaugurated General Griffin Supuni-Phiri as its commander replacing general Ignacious Maulana (retired) who handed over the sword and medal of command in absentia at Army Headquarters in Lilongwe.
Traditionally, the outgoing MDF commander has been personally handing over the sword, but Maulana was absent on Wednesday and, instead Deputy Minister of Defence Aggrey Massi, did the rites. No explanation was given for Maulana’s absence.
The ceremony was attended by high profile personalities, including Inspector General of Police Lexten Kachama, his deputy Rodney Jose, former MDF commander general Henry Odillo (retired), National Intelligence Bureau (NIB) chief Nicholas Dausi, Ministry of Defence Principal Secretary Paul Chiunguzeni and military attachés from several countries.
In his first public appearance since his promotion on July 29, Supuni-Phiri, who started his career in MDF in 1978, appealed to senior officers to work in unity and not for self-glory.
The new MDF commander has served in several high profile positions within MDF and also as defence attaché at Malawi’s mission at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. He pledged to improve the welfare of men and women in MDF.
In his remarks, Masi told the new commander that President Peter Mutharika has confidence in him, hence the appointment.
Later, Supuni-Phiri, the twelfth Malawian to lead MDF as commander, and his wife were driven in an open vehicle and escorted out of the parade square amid cheers from women to the Officers’ Mess where a cocktail was hosted in his honour.